Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snowing Forward, a perspective

Here's a guy writing about winter who understands ...
You'll enjoy his work.

Editorial | The Rural Life

New York Times, January 2, 2010

Last week felt like a last chance before winter. The snow melted, dying back until the vole trails became thin green paths through the remains of whiteness. The ice unbound itself from the rim of the horse tanks. One warm morning, a bat fluttered past my head, resting on the clapboards for a moment and then arcing around to the east side of the house. Despite the sense of relenting, the ground was still frozen solid.

And then it began to snow again — light, voluminous snow, swelling in the air and muffling every detail. Watching it, I felt a sense of intention in the weather, as if those mild days were just a way of clearing the canvas, scraping away the old paint, before laying down a fresh ground of white.

It is less a fall of snow than a fog, the flakes suspended in air, darkening and brightening the day at the same time. The birds line up on the boughs of a pignut hickory, and swoop on to the feeders by twos and threes, titmice and juncos, a crowd of chickadees and a demure pair of cardinals. Woodpeckers cling to the suet feeders, and squirrels rummage among the shells on the porch. Everyone eats in a kind of mutual disturbance, which the falling snow intensifies.

I know from the weather maps that the edge of the storm is only a few miles to the west. It will be shutting down soon in a last bank of dark gray clouds, so dark that the blue sky shining through their gaps will be the color of diluted turquoise. And then the sun will beam through the cold air and the sense of urgency will dissipate.

I’m reluctant to see the storm finish. At this time of year — winter only begun — I still feel the way I did when I was a child. I want the snow to keep falling, soft and deep into the night and the next day and the week after, until I wake up in a world completely unknown. In that world, there will be no melting back to the vole trails, no going back to spring. There will be only an unknown track into the snowbound woods.

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